Business jargon — no matter how ridiculed — always seems to survive. Here’s some new buzzwords:
Think Data (more than the facts)
Digital Mesh (online service expanding to more
Surge Pricing (you can guess).
“The sad truth is that when most people hear someone using abstract language, they’re more likely to respect that person.” This from Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
People remain impressed with big abstract words. Here’s a report from Inc. Magazine: http://www.inc.com/jill-krasny/want-more-power-use-corporate-jargon.html
For a list of business jargon to avoid (or use obsessively), look here: http://www.inc.com/ss/stop-using-this-business-jargon
College students, of course, are the most dangerous. They are learning and exploring and oh so disrespectful of the social standards we have locked into place.
The latest transgression comes from Lewis Clark College. A white student and an African American student, close friends were playing an unidentified game. According to reports, when the black one scored, he yelled “Team Nigga.” When the white one scored, he yelled, “White power.”
They are suspected of laughing. Somebody in the next room turned them in.
Campus living director Kelly Hoover and Associate Dean of Student Engagement Tricia Brand stated officially, “Your use of racially charged language, intentional or not, was reckless and created an environment where others in the space felt it was necessary to correct your behavior. More broadly, your actions caused reasonable apprehension of harm to the community.” The students were reprimanded and put on probation.
Now that the student paper has shined a light on the incident, administrators have clammed up.
The students were disciplined for making fun of a rigid authoritarian mindset that is the basis of the disciplinary process.
Here’s the account from The Oregonian newspaper: http://www.oregonlive.com/education/index.ssf/2014/04/free_speech_group_objects_to_l.html
Turns out I live in the 5th funniest city in the US, funnier than New York or Los Angeles.
That’s the news from University of Colorado Boulder. Boston is the funniest, they report. My Portland is #5.
“We found humor often has a local flavor,” said Peter McGraw, associate professor of marketing and psychology at the business school. “The jokes that get laughs at comedy clubs in Denver seem unlikely to fly with a cartoon editor at The New Yorker, for example. The kind of torturous game shows that some Japanese find amusing would likely fall flat to a sitcom producer in Los Angeles.”
More from McGraw: “Boston residents balance high-brow intellectualism with drunken rowdiness while Washington, D.C., finds humor in the absurdities of political systems. Portlanders are just plain weird.”
Hey! Wait a minute. We’re not weird. We’re advanced.
Hiring managers, in the brief opportunity they afford job seekers, say they are turned off by certain words on the resume. After a survey of HR professionals, Careerbuilder determined the worse resume cliché is “best of the breed.” Sounds bad to me.
Other turn offs include Hard worker, Strategic thinker, Dynamic, Self-motivated, Detail-oriented. Instead, the career consultant company suggests thinking of your own fresh words to describe yourself. It’s George Orwell Rule #1: Never use a combination of words you are used to seeing in print.
Here’s an illuminating essay that shows the Arab-Israeli conflict is now so encrusted with legend and bias, it’s almost impossible to discuss it effectively.
Jodi Rudoren, a New Times reporter, zeros in on whether an action is “retaliation” or “response.”
“This is part of what I have come to call “conflict code”: words whose plain English meanings are politicized, distorted or undermined in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian struggle, which is much more a clash of narratives than a tussle over territory.”
She continues: “It’s not just about journalism. As Secretary of State John Kerry tries to push forward a framework for a peace agreement this month, the precise language of the document may determine whether talks continue or break down.”
Latin and French send more words to the English language than any other sources. Maybe no big surprise. But Swedish is big too. And Japanese is on the rise.
This from Philip Durkin, Deputy Chief Editor of the Oxford English Dictionary, and author of Borrowed Words: A History of Loanwords in English.
More importantly, he has a fun interactive chart. You can see the influences over the centuries. See it here: http://blog.oxforddictionaries.com/2014/03/borrowed-words/
Now we have “transphobic.” This new word with no clear definition has been applied to a joke Ellen DeGeneres made at the Oscars, according to the Washington Post, http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/style-blog/wp/2014/03/02/internet-consensus-degeneres-liza-minnelli-joke-mean-transphobic/
Transphobic” is obviously built on the more commonly used “homophobic.” It means being against something about transvestites – or maybe people who have had a sex change operation.
It’s been accepted uncritically, even by the news media, so we have all gotten used to the word “homophobic.” But it’s a sloppy word, paving the way, for sloppy derivatives such as “transphobic.”
Like many of our current political terms, homophobic first came to its current meaning in the transformative 1960s. It combines the first part of “homosexual” with the medical terms for fear, “phobia.”
But it’s not now and never has had medical meaning. At its root, the word is misleading. People (conventional liberals) who use the word mean it to say those who speak out against homosexual behavior or same-sex rights do so as a symptom of a disease.
They don’t. People who speak against same sex behavior or criticize it are just people with a different political view. The word is not an accurate description. It’s not an argument. It’s a slur. Applying the term “homophobic” to political opponents is designed to marginalize them and belittle their opinion. The word does not promote communication. It ends communication.
Liberals should instead say …. Well, I don’t know what they should say because I don’t understand the meaning behind the slur.
The other day, we blogged some traditional terms for ordering food in a diner. Here’s what they mean:
1. Draw one! A cup of coffee
2. Gimme a shimmy! An order of Jello
3. Side of French! French fried potatoes added
4. Mickey with a wreath! Corned beef and cabbage
5. Mike and Ike! Salt and pepper
6. Chocker hole and murk! Doughnut and coffee.
7. Arizona! A glass of buttermilk
8. Clean the kitchen, red lead! Hash with catsup
9. One on the city! A glass of water
10. A Coney Island! One hot dog
11. Garibaldi! An Italian hero sandwich
12. BLT, hold the mayo! Bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich without mayonnaise.
13. Whistleberries and hounds, a pair! Beans with two frankfurters.
14. Bossy in a bowl! Beef stew.
15. Stir two! Wheat! Scrambled eggs with whole wheat toast
16. Black and white! Vanilla ice cream in a chocolate soda or milkshake (sometimes also coffee with cream)
17. Straight Kelly! A glass of orange juice
18. Eighty-one! A glass of water
19. Novy on a B! Nova Scotia smoked salmon on a bagel
20. Adam and Eve on a raft Poached eggs on toast
This is a fun little video about the food label “Natural.”
Looks like useful advice from nice people who want you to stay healthy. But look more closely. The video comes from an online retailer called “Only Organic.” Only Organic is worried the “natural” label is cutting into their “organic” brand.
The word “organic” itself is little more than a common sales tool for “premium branding.” Premium means you pay more. Let’s start with a dictionary.com definition of organic:
1. noting or pertaining to a class of chemical compounds that formerly comprised only those existing in or derived from plants or animals, but that now includes all other compounds of carbon.
2. characteristic of, pertaining to, or derived from living organisms: organic remains found in rocks.
Agricultural sales people, starting mainly in the 1940s, appropriated this scientific sounding word to imply a close-to-the-land character. It generally means free of added synthetic chemicals. It does NOT mean none of these chemicals.
While “natural” means nothing as the video reports, a determined consumer can find a real definition of “organic.” The US Department of Agriculture maintains the National Organic Program, with an actual “Certified Organic” seal. US states (California) and other countries maintain their own definitions of the word.
Yet there is hardly agreement inside the organic industry about the term. Look at this controversy: http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_15630.cfm
For a look at some recent battles within the industry over “organic”: http://www.treehugger.com/corporate-responsibility/organic-trade-association-responds-to-critics-about-gmo-stance.html
But still organic foods must be better for you, right? Not according to a Stanford University study. Organic is no more nutritious or tasty than conventional: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/04/science/earth/study-questions-advantages-of-organic-meat-and-produce.html They are just more expensive.
The costly yet meager benefits of organic food only apply to produce and meats that show the USDA certification. What about the sign at your grocery store that says “organic.” What does that mean? Its means about a buck more. Going further, what about a new term “sustainable”? That’s about two bucks more.
Interesting New York Times column: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/07/opinion/roger-cohen-the-organic-fable.html?_r=0
With hardly a whimper, the Republican-controlled US House of Representatives passed a bill Tuesday to increase the debt limit and avoid default. The action comes in stark contrast to two previous times in the past when Republicans pushed the government to the edge of default.
Two communication analysts say it is because of one word. Doug Hattaway and Steve Pierce in Politico Magazine charted the frequency of words used by both parties in the debates.
“Democrats undermined their own position by talking too much about raising the debt limit—and not talking about the consequences of sending the country into default. As seen in the word frequency chart above, the word “default” didn’t even show up in the debate during the first round of this fight in 2011,” they report.
They say the conversation changed immediately once Democrats took control of their language. Polls reflected the change within two weeks, according to their analysis.
“Democrats also dialed up the emotional resonance of the message by saying that a default could cause an economic ‘catastrophe.’ Emotion works with cognition in the brain to help us with attention, retention and motivation. A message must create an emotional reaction for people to notice it, much less remember it,” they concluded.
Pretty good work. Well supported